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tv   American Perspectives  CSPAN  February 12, 2011 11:00pm-2:00am EST

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we can push for less spending. we can use the house oversight authority to expose the damage being done by the blizzard of obama administration job- crushing which it -- regulation. but we cannot today to what needs to be done for our country. so as we prepare for starting today for the next 21 months, i ask you to remember the words of my fellow mississippian, fred smith, the founder and ceo of that act. fred says, "the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." [laughter] [applause] and the main thing is electing a republican president next year. [applause]
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we cannot put america on the right track until we elect a republican president in 2012. and a republican senate to join the republican house in enacting those crucial policies. we will not have the policies that lead to economic growth, job creation, smaller government, lower taxes, less spending, rational regulations, and the stronger american presence in the world in every dimension until we had a republican president to lead for those right policies, the ones that will achieve the right results for america and the world. namaste, the reckless policies of the obama administration and the left-wing congress has brought -- has brought america to a crossroads. the congressional budget office informs that this year's deficit
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will hit a staggering record $ and the governmentr will have to borrow 40 cents for every dollar, much of it from the chinese government. my generation's children and grandchildren, that as many of you, will be handed the bill. a gargantuan debts for duty pay. in fact, cbo reports that this year the federal government will spend $3.7 trillion but will only take can $2.2 trillion. friends, our problem is not that we tax too little. it is that we spend too much. [applause] washington needs to understand
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the federal government cannot spend itself rich anymore than your family can spend itself rich. i remember how the liberals used to mop my old boss, ronald reagan, and his belief that lower taxes would spur economic growth in m2 -- improve the nation's balance sheet. they laughed and said, "we cannot grow ourselves out of the deficit." let me tell you something -- it is a lot easier to grow yourself out of a deficit than to spend yourself out of the deficit. [applause] let me give you a personal example. in my first quarter years as governor in mississippi, we got rid of a huge budget shortfall because revenue went up by 40% without raising anybody's taxes. revenue went up because we had more tax payers with more taxable income. that is the way to get your balance sheet where you want it.
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[applause] now we have to be honest with each other. the failure to control federal spending occurred under republicans as well as democrats. though i have to say, it has gotten a whole lot worse in the last two years. consider this -- it took about 220 years for the american government to accumulate $5 trillion in debt. under the obama administration, our debt will grow by $5 trillion in less than four years. to me, that is breathtaking. it is why i pray and believe that republicans in congress, the republican legislators, republican governors will be faithful to the will of the american people expressed in november. and from my experience as
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governor, i know congress can reduce spending. i watched mitch daniels give indiana its first balanced budget in eight years without raising taxes. [applause] i saw virginia gov. bob mcdonald come into office facing a deficit in excess of $2 billion. he canceled the big tax increase, got control of spending, and now has a surplus of more than $400 million. [applause] and chris christie has shown us that responsible spending cuts -- [applause] spending cuts can be achieved and popular even in an unusual -- in a hugely lose state -- blue state like new jersey.
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something that we were ignoring social issues. that is now right. my first year as governor, my pro-life agenda was adopted by my democrat majority legislature and americans united to live -- for life, and named mississippi mrs. -- named mississippi the safest place for an unborn child. [applause] governors elected to solve problems, and that is why in the recent years uc governors focus on economic problems. and budgets, and spending. as i mentioned, that year that we passed a pro-life agenda, mississippi has $720 million budget shortfall, about 20% of the total general fund. it took us two years, but we eliminated that deficit without raising anybody's taxes.
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or recently, when the recession hit our state, as i'm allowed to do by law as governor, i cut spending 9.4%, about $500 million. [applause] we governors cut spending, including some democrat governors like bill gradison of tennessee. i know congress can -- phil bredesen of tennessee. and there is plenty to cut. when i cut spending by 10% in one fiscal year, i said i did not think most people in mississippi even noticed. of course the liberals and the advocates wind and moaned. our liberal media especially criticized in my -- my savings in medicaid. our only big entitlement in mississippi.
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those savings have been very large, hundreds of millions of dollars. one way to make sure everybody received it -- was to make sure that everyone receiving medicaid was actually eligible. there is an idea. [applause] undermine democratic successor, medicaid grows and mississippi have expanded from about 500,000 people to 750,000 people. in just four years. the good news, he was not there but for years. the key reform i made when i got into office was to require recipients not in nursing homes or a mobile because of their health to reestablish their medicaid eligibility in person annually. it is funny how many people never showed up. [applause]
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after my reforms -- and this was in good economic times -- the rolls fell from 750,000 to fewer than 600,000, a reduction of more than 20%. the other change was to emphasize strong management. it is the fourth lowest in the country, less than half the national average. about half of the error rate for the federal medicare program. why is that important? i will tell you why. our taxpayers save about $50 million a year just because of our lower error rate. that would be tens of billions in saving for the federal government in medicaid and medicare if the national air
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raid were the same as the mississippi medicaid program. we could save money on entitlements. you just have to have the willpower and the courage to do it. [applause] governors deal with problems. others have decided from here on how leader should be judged not by their hopes for their intentions, leaders must be judged by results they achieve. [applause] that fact is what president obama started to sound like ronald reagan over the last several weeks. i was political director at the white house for two years under president reagan. i can tell you, reagan would have recognized this ploy is
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another play from the democratic playbook. take up the middle, then run around left end. [laughter] [applause] spending becomes investments, none debt -- non-defense discretionary spending should be capped but at a level 27% higher than it was just a few years ago. the most job-by falling regulatory regime in history, that barack obama and carol browner, will be reviewed. the president even told bill o'reilly sunday that taxes had not gone up during his first few years. what he failed to mention was the lack of the huge tax increase was solely because he could not get any republican senators to vote for his proposal for the largest tax increase in american history. and then he told us in his own state of the union address that
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he would push for that gigantic tax increase in this congress. no, the gipper with a chuckle than shuck his head, because he had seen the left try out this whole move many times before. americans have told us, they want responsible government. one that respects the limits of government enshrined in our constitution. they want policies that enhance individual freedom, not expand government control. they believe in personal responsibility, not government. if republicans are not faithful to these principles, i will tell you we will be defeated as quickly as the democrats and we will deserve to be. [applause] the obama policies of raising
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taxes and explosives spending and skyrocketing debt and government-run health care are probably subject that you're pretty familiar with. let's talk about another job- growth killer you do not hear about as much. the obama energy policies. i am fed him my old friend speaking of new gingrich -- just as obama care will increase the cost of health care, the energy policy will drive up the cost of energy and not by accident. remember, while health care is 18% of the american economy, energy costs of that 100% of our economy. you remember the cap and trade tax? in november -- in 2008, before he was elected in november, then-senator obama told a san for cisco newspaper, under my plan of a cap and trade system,
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electricity rates would necessarily sky rocket. if senate republicans had not killed the cat and trade tax, the electric bills for working americans would have skyrocketed. except there would be even fewer americans working if that happened. american manufacturing would be crushed by obama proposals. but he has not given them up. his moratorium on the gulf of mexico oil drilling has become a permatorium. the technology hydraulic fracturing that makes possible a huge increase in natural gas production in shale formations is under attack. permits to mine coal are hard to get in america than a heart transplant. the wall street journal recently reported u.s. domestic oil production will fall 13% this
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year. and that is part of obama's strategy. the obama administration is trying to achieve by regulation what they cannot pass through congress. [applause] the obama energy policy is this in one sentence -- in crises the price of energy so american -- increase the price of energy so americans will lose -- use less of it. they are using the policy to reduce pollution and make extremely expensive uneconomic alternative fuels cost- effective. it is not an energy policy. this is an environmental policy. so is gas was by $3 a gallon on its way to $4 and more, remember what energy secretary steven chu, a member of the obama
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administration cabinet today, said in a 2000 speech -- somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in europe. gasoline in europe is $8 or $9 a gallon. secretary to may think we need that but i doubt it is going to get many votes in this congress. these energy policies are catastrophic for america's economy. such policies would destroy our ability to complete -- compete in the global marketplace because of cost. what we need is more american energy. [applause] the american worker can compete with anybody in the world if we do not tie a millstone around
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his neck. and we're not going to allow the obama administration to do that through energy policy. [applause] fellow conservatives, 2012 will be the year of decision. last year americans did not give the gop of mandate to govern. they get us a chance. a chance to earn their trust and support. so now let's make the most of it. as we prepare to plead our victory by electing a republican senate in the white house in 2012, let me remind you of what i said in this congress -- conference last year as the chairman of the republican governors association. i said at the 2010 campaigns were about issues, republicans would win a huge victory. that is because the american people agree with us on the issues. it is why they massively
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repudiated obama policies last november. the left and their allies in the liberal media elite like to describe conservatives, especially tea party activists, as some have out of the mainstream, a bunch of unsophisticated know nothings. the leftist media says, the tea party is a problem for republicans. if this was the -- this is a case of the left whistling past the graveyard. [laughter] [applause] americans know it today that participants in the tea party movement were upset by the same policy issues, jobs and economic growth, reckless spending, skyrocketing deficits and debt, and an energy policy that drives up energy costs, and a government-run health care
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system that drives up health care costs. rather than divide us, these are the issues that unite us. unitas as conservatives, unitas is republicans, and unite us as americans. the left -- [applause] psychiatrists say that it is bad to stifle the urge to applaud. [laughter] if it is not bad for you, it is bad for me. [laughter] i appreciate the perseverance. but what the left does not want to admit and what the news media does not want to write for broadcast is that the average american agrees with us on policy and issues. that is why republican candidates last year won the votes of independents by 20
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percentage points. [applause] and as i promised you last year, if the 2012 campaign is about the issue, independents will again join us getting us turned around and back on the right track with a larger economy and a smaller government. lower taxes and more americans working. appalling deficits as we have more americans with more taxable incomes. more american energy. obamacare repealed and replaced by a system where you and your doctor control your health care choices. [applause] we know prosperity results from an economy based on creating wealth, not redistricting getting -- redistributing it.
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and if you care about helping the least among us and lifting people out of poverty, history proves you should favor a system of democratic capitalism over a centralized government-managed economy. [applause] now i assure you, if we offer this conservative vision next year, it will be embraced by mainstream business owners and wal-mart mothers. by american workers, corporate executives, and mama grizzlies. by tea party activists, rank- and-file republicans, an independent voters. our agenda is america's agenda. and with your help, our team will be america's team.
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the winning team. in 2012. let me close by remembering today was that 202nd birthday of abraham lincoln, the father of our party, and the first republican president. lincoln saved our country, one nation, indivisible, and he established our party has the party of freedom. and so we are today the party of freedom. so that every american is free to work hard and make the most of his or her got-given talents, to stand equal before the law, to pray to their own god or no god, and to have a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. rather than a people controlled by their government. these are other reasons clinton said, "-- lincoln said, "america
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is the last best hope on earth and social she ever be." thank you and god bless you. [applause] ♪ >> if that bothers you, well that's too bad but if you are proud, they could use some more like me and you were the stars and stripes and the eagle flies ♪ ♪ [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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♪ >> one feature of the conservative political action conference each year is the presidential straw poll the top two finishers this year are the same as last year. ron paul that 30% of the vote followed by massachusetts gov. mitt romney. getting 6% of the vote were former new mexico gov. jerry johnson, in new jersey gov. christie. last year's third-place finisher was former alaska gov. sarah palin. this year she finished ninth, with 3% of the vote. and now the final speaker of the conservative political action conference, first-term
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florida congressman allen west. this is just over 30 minutes. >> keep standing up and singing, i might not make this 7:00 flight. but it really is a great honor to be here. thank you so much, chairman king, but before i get started, the special young man that has come up on stage with me, is a sergeant from intel, virginia. he has served in iraq with the second infantry division. he now serves as the third interview regimen, the old guard, where he now trains those men and women who guard the tomb of the unknowns soldier. [applause] so before i say a word, i want to introduce to you one of
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argeant's best, sg jason. >> we do not have much time. i have a bigger fear for my future than i did of that era had back in baghdad, and the reason i'm here is because i believe in the kernel. i think all of you and god bless america. >> to chairman keene, the incoming chairman, good to see another south florida in here, and each and every one of you out there, what a year it has been. and congratulations, because your hard work and efforts paid off. thanks to you, your locks and
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standing on street corners waiting flags and signs, we have by gop house majority. [applause] within that house majority come of the of the largest ever conservative conference that they have ever seen, and also we have 87 new freshmen, an historic achievement that you unable to happen. -- enabled to happen. you also close the gap in the u.s. senate. you make your voice is heard and have reminded washington, d.c. that this is a representative democracy made up of the consent of the governed. you endured the relentless and high style attacks from the liberal left, such as being called racist and perhaps they should see who is standing here is your keynote speaker. [applause]
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thank you. thank you. thank you. you stood by your principles in these policies of character assassination. you said you would not allow your country to be cast into perpetual dusk, nor remained silent while the sun set on the ideals of american exceptional listen. i have to endure policies because of the liberal progressive agenda offering no viable solutions for our republic. countless name calling, saying you're the member of an all- white motorcycle gang and then called the worst person in the world by burris six times, and
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he got fired for it. [cheers and applause] having your personal friends, such as a very dear friend of mine, a south florida radio talk-show host, attack. they've already started running attack ads against the and i was barely sworn in about 35 days. the cook political report said i was one of the most vulnerable congressmen even before i had been sworn in. this past week, the politico put me out as one of the top most vulnerable representatives. i have got to tell you something, standing here before each and every one of you, i do not feel so vulnerable, do i? [cheers and applause] but how is it that we in this past year stood against such a
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bile onslaught was a market is very simple. i go to isaiah chapter 54, but heard no weapon formed again shall prosper, and every town that rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn. this is the heritage of the sons of the lord. that is why this so important. and even more important, even more important in your faith, he talked about an oath. it is an oath that each and everyone of us believe in. it isn't so i took for the first time on the 31st of july, 1982 as a young second lieutenant at the university of tennessee. not rocky top. [laughter] it has been so that to begin at that fifth of january, 2011, which has no statute of limitations. it isn't as if that we pledged
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that we would lay down our oath that wes an pledged we would lay down our lives. i've voted -- i said i would be a conservative guardian of the principles that makes america the greatest nation the world has ever known. [applause] but today as we have gathered here on this day, on this momentous occasion, i believe that we are standing on the verge of the dawn of a new america. if we had here to those -- if we adher to those fundamental principles and those constitutional ideals. the interaction between life, society, and government, to promote the advancement of the individual by a hearing -- adhering to the constitutional principles of liberty, and what
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democracy seats equality and liberty, socialism 6 equality in restraint and servitude. abraham lincoln once asked a question, "what is conservatism?" is it not the adherence to the old man tried against the new and untried which marked i would say this is presently and were standing here today, liberal progressivism evolved after our constitution. it has been tried. it has repeatedly failed all over the world. so why would we think that it could be successful here in our united states of america? [applause] thank you. thank you. so here today, let us be reminded of the pillars of
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conservatism. they will leave this to the new dawn of a new america. the first one is very simple -- it is effected any fish and constitutional government. thomas jefferson said, "my reading of history convinces me that most had government results from too much governance." [applause] therefore let me ask you a simple question, do you believe that america can survive as a bureaucratic ministate? >> no! >> you are absolutely correct and i appreciate the emphasis over there. [laughter] [applause] the framers of our constitution had one true intent, to put a restraining order on big government. fiscal conservatism is a
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derivative of constitutional government, which understands it's right and proper mandates, and that is why next week we're going to cut $100 billion of spending off of the federal budget. [cheers and applause] we cannot continue one with the record deficits we have seen in the past three years. $1.4 trillion, approaching a $15 trillion debt, $5 trillion of new debt in the past quarter years. we cannot continue with the public sector outpacing the private sector. we cannot continue in an america where we are making more and more people wedded to government either by checks or employment checks, whether we create more victims and make people more
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dependent upon government, that has to end, and the hard decisions come right now. [applause] we cannot continue on with the policies of behavior modification to excessive taxation and overburdensome regulations. that is why we are. the cutting from the epa. [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you. the wasteful spending has ended. the federal bailouts which leads to the nationalization of production, automobile industry, finance industry, health care, areas so great, then someone explain to me why over 200 democrat political groups are going to the president and asking for waivers? [applause]
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i say this to the president -- the good thing in the patient protection affordable care act, closing the doughnut hole, making sure that we take care of people with preexisting conditions, keeping people -- our young kids on our insurance, i can probably fit that in 5 to 10 pages. it is the other 2490 pages with 11 new taxes, 159 new government agencies and bureaucracies, and 16,000 new irs agencies that the america -- again that the states of america does not want. [cheers and applause] thank you. we are tired of failed gimmick policies like cash for clunkers.
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and i found it today we're going to have cast for plug ins, announced on monday, where the government will hand out checks for $7,500 for people to buy electric cars once again. [booing] mr. president, did you hear the american people? 2008, what we have a financial meltdown? go back and study the community reinvestment act, where recreated all legacy like fannie mae and freddie mac, and when we lowered the standards for living, when we get rid of glass the goal and we start to securitizer are mortgages and sell-off that mortgages throughout the financial industry and overseas. if the government gets out of the way of the private sector, it would not have happened in 2008.
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as i sat at the state of the union address and i heard the president use these words, "investment in innovation," those words are not part of the public-sector lexicon for their part of the private sector. they are part of our free- market, if our private enterprise with the most ingenuity. through the private sector is where we will have long-term sustainable economic growth, jobs growth, financial predictability in by ability not president obama's version of investment which comes from your investment and that is what we must set the conditions for. the dawn of a new america needs them to me is that we should listen to abraham lincoln when he said, "you cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by invading it today." now was the time. -- now is the time to reform our
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individual tax code. now was the time to cut our individual corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%. now was the time to eliminate capital gains taxes and dividends taxes. now he is the time to cap federal spending at 18% to 20%. now was the time to build a balanced budget amendment. now is the time -- [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you. now is the time to eliminate redundant, failed, and deposited government programs and agencies. make the hard decisions. we must implement fiscal responsibility that is based upon the constitutional role of the federal government. and i say we start looking at
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every government program and agency that has been created in the last 10 years and start making some hard examinations. now is the time. [applause] the second important pillar in our conservative principles is peace for vigilance, the result -- through result in strength. a new america means that we must remember the words of sir edmund burke when he said that all that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. [cheers and applause] sun tsu tells us in the book "the art of war," to know your enemy is to know yourself and to know the terrain of battles, you
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will always be victorious. piece begins with courageous leaders who are willing to identify and define our enemy and their objectives. because political correctness has no place in our national security strategy. [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you. thank you. i find it appalling that someone such as major hassan and gunned down american soldiers and we treat it like workplace violence. truth is not subjective. facts do not live. those who fail to learn from
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history are doomed to repeat it. in new america, a secure america, means that we can ill afford to have a 21st century sir neville chamberlain moment. [applause] guest today in -- yesterday we witnessed an historic moment in egypt, and i applaud the flags of freedom flying in this arab nation. however, let us be reminded of the lessons of the revolution in iran. let us also remember that there was a certain group that came into afghanistan after the soviet union the part it, and that country fell into civil war, and that same group promised to bring in civil society and stability. that same group was recognized by the clinton administration, even at foreign minister brought here in hosted in the white house. that group was named the taliban.
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history has a way of teaching you a very bad lesson if you do not pay attention. many cheered the departure of hosni mubarak, but i would much rather have seen the departure of what most of ahmedinejad in the end of the rule of theocrats in iran. [cheers and applause] thank you. a week america has never proven good for the world. we must ensure that our men and women in combat have clear objectives, the tools for victory, and the rules of engagement which enable them to seize and maintain the initiative from the enemy. [cheers and applause] and yes, i do have that problem
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with granting american constitutional rights to terrorists while we attend to and have him present our own warriors from killing terrorists. [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you. the dawn on a new america means this -- secure our borders, in force our lawns. -- and enforce our laws. recognize that threat on the korean peninsula, coming out of south and central america, and confront the radical islamic non-day, non-uniformed police drugs that kill and promote a seventh century ideology that is anathema to the values of america and to western civilization.
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[applause] thank you. a new dawn for america means never surrender in our nuclear deterrent capability is due to an iu trust of those who subscribe to machiavelli, not kumbaya. it means recognizing that our economic strength is part of our national security and that china is still a communist country which is using capitalism as a weapon against us. [applause] and it never -- and never allowing anyone to believe that our greatest ally in the middle east, israel, shall not have this nation ready to stand with her. it means and i say this to my friends in the state of israel,
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i say this, i shall never let israel down. [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you. thank you. now there is a third pillar. there is a third pillar, and in many ways this is the most important pillar for the dawn of the new america, and that is to never abandon our values. this may be a hot topic. cpac, but without this critical third pillar, we are in complete as an american people. -- we are in complete as an
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american people. we must honor our language can recognize it is the most basic and, in part that makes this an american. -- that makes us an american. [applause] i believe that was to celebrate the diversity of the melting pot called america, but never allow multiculturalism to grow on steroids and define itself as making american culture subservient. yes, there is a definitive american culture. [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you. thank you. we must respect and honor the unborn. [cheers and applause]
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and i want you to tell me this. tell me this -- what kind of person would support legislation that states that an american child that survived a late term abortion procedure does not deserve to live? i will never support late term abortion or the use of abortion as birth control, because i do not believe that having a baby is punishment. [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you. we must hold sacred the privilege of the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. to promote the promulgation of
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our society, because we cannot allow the destruction of the american family. senator daniel c. come up patrick moynihan talked about this. he said, but folly of the breakdown of the american family will once, and in 9 -- haunt the united states of america. if you break down the american family, that leaves the government dependency which leads to the growth of government which results in greater government spending. the strength of america is in the strength of the bonds of the american family. when america was going westward, it was men and women in their children going across the mississippi river and spreading this great nation. do not ever for the bond of this great nation. [applause]
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if we are have a new dawn in america, it means reclaiming far today a-christian faith heritage. john adams said, "we have no government on with power capable of contending with human passion unbridled by a rally and religion. our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. it is wholly inadequate for the government of any other." this is not about the separation of church and state. it is about making sure that we do not separate faith from the individual. you must never forget that the american model is, in god we trust. [cheers and applause]
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we in america, we welcome the lives of others in america, but, coexistence must be based on a sense -- a simple principle -- when tolerance becomes a one-way street, it leads to cultural suicide. in american cultural values and never be subjugated to any other as long as i have here in my lungs. -- air in my lungs. [applause] in tribute to presidents day, and black history month, let me share these closing thoughts. we are either a united people or we are not. if the former, let us in all matters of general concern act as a nation. which has national of six to promote, and a national
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character to support. if we are not, let us no longer act farce by attending to it. george washington. america will never be destroyed from the outside. if we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroy ourselves. abraham lincoln. we stand on the press office of greatness for this nation, but if we forget what brought us to where we are into the 34 years, if we forget these three pillars, then there will be no america to pass on to subsequent generations. i want to close with this simple story. on the seventh of february, 1961, hermann sr. and elizabeth thomas west had a son. their son grew up walking the
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streets in the old forward in the inner city of atlanta georgia. he attended an american -- an elementary school across the street. he would go down and fish with his father and his grandfather and catch croppie and brim in lake eufaula. he would pick peaches to help out his grandparents and others selling peaches on these sideway stores. he climbed pecan trees, and i say "pee-can", because that is how we say in the the south. but i used to climb the pecan trees because another one and first the kinds to make a nice pecan pie. the drug -- he grew up selling
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comes at the atlanta braves games. he learned all the teams to the sec fights on. -- tunes to the sec fight songs. he went off to serve his country, just the same as his father had done in world war ii. his older brother had done in vietnam. his father-in-law had done in vietnam. his nephew has done in afghanistan. and his brother-in-law has done in iraq. he still on the wall to tell his country, sleep peacefully at night, because this man stands ready to do the violence and do the things that are necessary to protect you. [cheers and applause]
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on this day, 50 years later, the son of america stands before you on this grand stage, committing himself to his country. to his national objects, to its national character, to its fiscal and national security, to the preservation of the life, liberty, in pursuit of happiness of every american. i do it for my wife. i do with my daughters. i took from our relatives, i do it for the men and women in uniform, i'd do it for the little boy and little girl wearing a high school junior rotc uniform just like i did. [applause] i'd do it with that unborn american child. [cheers and applause] i do it for each and every one of you to hear my words.
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i do it by pledging a sacred oath to the dawn of a new america, and to the liberal press who i am sure will be putting out all of their pieces and they will be attacking me starting today, tomorrow, and of course on monday. continue your tax. because this is what abraham lincoln said. be sure you put your feet in the right place and stand firm. so as you depart here today from this great gathering of conservatives, this is the commission i send you out with. stand firm for this is that on of the new america. god bless you all. god bless america. stan kasten loyal. thank you. -- stand fast and loyal.
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>> next former press secretaries talk about life in the white house. in the 56 annual washington press club foundation dinner. after that, from the congressional -- the constitutional political action conference, mississippi governor haley barbour. >> on american history tv, voting discrimination in the south in the kennedy administration's strategy to overcome. also look at the belief of our founding fathers and the role of christianity in established and a chin. and military service in world war ii with the all-japanese regimental combat team. experience american history tv on c-span3 all weekend, every weekend. for complete schedule, go to c- span.org/history, and click on the alert button and have the schedules e-mailed to you. in the patriot act passed after
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the 9/11 attacks middies her to conduct surveillance on terrorism suspect. with provisions of the bill ending this month, lawmakers are trying to renew the provisions. all the history of the bill today online with c-span congressional chronicle were you contracted daily action on the floor of the house and the city with time lines and find the full archive for every member at c-span.org/commerce. -- c-span.org/congress. >> now the press secretaries. yesterday, robert gibbs held his last briefing as white house press secretary. he is being replaced by jay carney, the communications director for vice president biden. the george washington school of public media and the ferris hosted the event. it is about 30 minutes. >> please welcome the president
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of george washington university. [applause] >> we provide our students as well as our friends and neighbors with the front row seat to the theater history. tonight is no exception. we're delighted to have on our campus this evening four former white house press secretaries could in the faces and voices of presidential administrations collectively spanning nearly two decades of american history. i am pleased that one of them, then the three know, this is an extension of her teaching role last semester on our fragile school of political management. i am also glad we're joined this evening by a the senior cnn white house correspondent who is teaching this semester as a fellow in our schoolthe programe
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house -- making and shaping the news -- is hosted by former cnn white house correspondent and washington bureau chief and emmy award winning journalist, frank sesno, who serves as the director of the george washington school of media and public affairs. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming frank sesno. [applause] >> thank you very much. what a great crowd and a great pleasure to be here with you tonight. i think you'll hear a conversation this evening he will long remember. i want to thank the president and board of the university for helping make this conversation series possible. i would like to thank our council members who are here with us this evening and the great faculty and students of the school a media and public
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affairs. also, a word of thanks in recognition of the graduate school of political management to help us put together a wonderful reception. this event is produced by the center for innovative media at the school of media and public affairs. periodically with these public sessions we meet with people in this public sphere of life to discuss with them the direction of the country, the role the media plays, and the way we communicate as a society. our guests have included robert gates, hillary clinton, walter mondale, and the late tony snow. we examined this remarkable intersection of media, political communication, and public affairs. that is what we do -- we study,
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teach, and explore political communication and the fundamental connection between government and the media. this event is an ideal conversation for those of us at the university to explore this intersection. i am happy to say it is being broadcast live on c-span. it will be heard on the potus channel. i am also privileged this year to help as one of our visiting fellows, cnn's senior white house correspondent ed henry. i watched ed henry with a very close eye having been in the white house correspondent job for a few years. i know a little of what he goes through every day. every day he reports to work at the white house.
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he is teaching a course with us at the university of this semester along with joe what part, a former white house press secretary, who is unfortunately not able to be with us this evening. he passes on his regrets and disappointment. he was having surgery and during the surgery his leg was broken. he has just gone home. i am happy to say he started his physical therapy and he sends his regards. it took a broken leg to keep them away. and it teaches with joe. he is here this evening. i asked him to keep us started with brief remarks on what is at stake every day when he goes to work in that place called the "briefing room." ladies and gentlemen, please welcome ed henry.
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[applause] >> thank you. i appreciate it. thank you, everybody. it is great to be here with frank. we had a new blog at cnn.com/1600report. we just did something on that ronald reagan's birthday. i did not know much about ronald reagan himself. i learned from the journalist who covered him. they set the standard for keeping politics honest. the care that they took to the craft of journalism is what inspired me to try and one day become a white house correspondent myself. i was impressed with their work, especially fred. he was only about 45-years old. that means he was covering ronald reagan when he was about 14-years old. he was a prodigy. i got an e-mail inviting me to a farewell party for robert
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gibbs. the nation's highest-paid kindergarten teacher is finally leaving the classroom. [laughter] i thought it was funny until i realized it was an insult to myself and my colleagues in the media who are in that romper room every day. ari fleischer a few moments ago backstage threaten to turn this around and have former press secretaries ask me questions, something i did not want to do. i can tell you, having done this for five years, this is not kindergarten. this is serious business. i have to admit i was a little scared. this is a big beat. capitol hill is big as well, but it has a narrower scope of domestic politics. you have all the hill, leaders like dick armey who did not have passwords.
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the first time i went on the no. 1, i know every word i uttered or any other correspondent utters -- with social media and the way it is growing, there is even more pressure to get the story first, but more importantly get the story right and be fair. the pressure we have as journalists -- just multiply that when you talk about these press secretaries. the whole world is watching them. their words can come back to haunt them. they are the ones who are touching the stories every hour as they come in from everywhere. the work we have to do to make sure we get our words and our reports right, multiplied what they have to go through. their words can literally
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topple a government or move a market. that is why i have respect for all of the people coming up here at this moment. there is a story of what to pass along from when i was in the bush white house. tony snow passed away far too early. we miss him, but he left behind a lot of lessons to teach us all about how to carry ourselves. he and i got off on the wrong foot because he had just come from fox news over to the bush white house and i was at cnn. i was pressing him all the war in iraq. tony finally snapped at me and said, "is it at." it came out of nowhere. it surprised me. a few days later i bought into him on the lawn of the white house. from a distance, his assistant, and buckley, salt us and all we were about to come to blows. they tried to diffuse the
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situation. the city would bring us some boxing gloves. tony said something i never forgot, "this is not personal. he has a job to do and i have a job to do." when we get into these emotional debates, all of this happens day in and day out. there are decisions that presidents and press secretaries have to make. there has to be a healthy dose of respect on both sides of the podium. without further adieu, -- >> our guests tonight have seen, shaped, and given voice to an incredible history from black hawk down in somalia to the impeachment of a president to 9/11 and the war in iraq.
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their jobs are complicated and may be impossible ones to represent the president, to articulate administration policy, to communicate with a skeptical world, to manage the media -- let me think about that for a minute -- manage the media, to tell the truth, or at the very least, we hope and trust, not to lie, and to do radio, television, facebook, etc. when dee dee myers stepped to the podium there were 50 active websites. when dana perino let the job, there were about 20 billion websites. my, how times have changed. some things do not change, and that is whether we believe the information and whether the information is credible.
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in three years, as mentioned, we have had twitter. the press secretaries are people who have seen, experience, and articulated this remarkable history set against a remarkable media backdrop that we all share in one form or another here and around the world. i will share one story with you and we will hear many more. within days after 9/11 -- i was a bureau chief at cnn. ari fleischer was the press secretary. he said we are in a different time now and the world has changed. he said what you must understand that what you say and broadcast will be seen in afghanistan at the same illness is seen in albany. he has special instructions, which we will talk about in a bit, but he was fundamentally
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asking us not to report the whereabouts of the president. it was a really sobering moment. we know the world did change then in the world continues to change in a remarkable and sometimes unpredictable ways. let me start by bringing out for you the man who was the press secretary for bill clinton at a rather compelling time in his presidency, mike mccurry, press secretary from 1994 until 1998. [applause] someone i hope many of you know from your experiences in class, if not, watching and listening to her. apparently she is a twister phenomenon. when she tweets, the world listens. dana perino. [applause] ok.
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>> wow. >> ari fleischer was press secretary at a difficult time in our history. [applause] finally, as i mentioned, when she became the first female white house press secretary, dee dee myers -- my goodness. i am having a hard time with these monitors. we are off to a great start, are we not? [laughter] ladies and gentlemen, dee dee myers. dee dee myers took a job -- i am having trouble with these monitors. at a very important and sensitive time. we are oof to a great start.
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ladies and gentlemen, dee dee myers. [applause] i am going to sit down and be safe. well, how many watched the super bowl last night? [applause] how many green bay fans do we have? how many steelers fans do we have? i will not put you on the spot. >> we learned to not take sides on a question like that. [laughter] >> before the game, barack obama sits down with, of all people, bill o'reilly of fox news for another contest -- press secretaries -- good idea or bad idea? >> it was a great idea. >> why?
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>> millions of people watching. there was no editing. bill o'reilly had a chance to ask a couple of questions. i thought barack obama answered wonderfully. he was the person we remember from the 2008 campaign. >> some people said it was not dignified enough. it was not the right forum for the president. >> he showed they could take on bill o'reilly. >> that takes us to the next topic which is where we began. i want to start with you -- we have a real crisis in the world now that we are watching and is taking shape tremendously. i am talking about egypt and the unfolding crisis in egypt.
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the white house and the president had called for transition. they said it should be now. but there has been some confusion over what "now" really means. do you know what the policy is as communicated? >> not really. i understand it is because of circumstances and events. i think one of the problems yesterday with us having two different spokespeople from the administration, plus president obama, speaking out of the same topic -- it is not necessarily a problem -- >> this is one of the great examples of the complexity of this job in the global world we live. if you are a state department spokeswoman or press secretary, you are speaking to multiple audiences simultaneously.
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you have sometimes nuanced messages that you are delivering. the message may not be the same as you what a global ones to reach. how do you target these messages in a time where things are instantaneously global? it is a real challenge. mubarak has to be there until september. meanwhile, we have people saying the transocean needs to begin now. >> as mike indicated, this is the reality. i think you are hearing a focus. i happen to think, do not tell anybody this, but barack obama handled this quite well. this is one where you want to slowly say goodbye to president mubarak. the reason i say slowly is because if you think you're watching problems now, wait until it really gets messy. i think he knows that. he has tried to walk a tight rope.
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>> i am going to let you watch a piece of the tight rope robert gibbs has been watching lightly. he was asked to clarify after the president's remarks what "now" means. let us let you take a look at this. >> how do you define "now?" >> now means yesterday. "now" started yesterday. the time for the transition has, and that time is now. -- >> how do you define "now?" >> now means yesterday. this means yesterday. this is where we are, here in the here and now. the time for a transition ahhas
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come. >> does "now" mean september? >> it is not september. [laughter] >> bring back memories? >> the meaning of the word is - [laughter] [applause] i think each of us could probably name 100 times in which we needed a do-over, particularly with hindsight. it is hard when events are breaking and you're trying to walk that fine line and send the right message to the right audiences. you handled the situation as best you can and sometimes you step too far over the line. >> is that what happens? you go out there and say, "i did not expect that question."
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>> that was my press office. the worst thing that could happen was for me to be surprised at the podium. i can remember a few times. [laughter] one thing that has changed is that because of 24/7 news cycles, reporters are constantly asking us questions all day long. by the time you got to the briefing room at noon, they have been asking questions since 4:00 a.m. you can tell where robert gibbs was looking. you kind of know where they are generally chanting and you know what they need to get on television. >> he was clearly trying to confuse the moment and dodge the question with humor or by repeating it over and over again. >> these briefings or the raw
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ingredients of news coverage at the white house. they are not news in and of themselves. the idiot who allowed the tv cameras to go in there -- >> that would be me. [laughter] >> it is not supposed to be carried live on national television. it is supposed to be what reporters used to test and go to other sources and foreign the composite, which is the story they submit to the american people. >> you brought cameras to the briefing room on a regular basis. >> a good idea in 1995, a bad idea when monica lewinsky came along. >> i want to come back to that in a minute. this is the serious business of your job. in sending messages from the white house podium, -- you were
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there on 911 -- what role did you have in sending messages and were you conscious that you were the messenger? >> yes. on september 12, that was the first time that george bush said "at war" publicly. that night when he addressed the nation, he spoke of reassurance and hope. the next day he used the word "war." you realized that troops were starting to move. america had a seriousness of purpose after 9/11. it was my job to make a statement within 48 hours. >> was that a deliberate strategy? how's that decision made?
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>> it was a last-minute summit with prime minister blair. president bush returned from the summit. it was a last-ditch hope. reporters literally jump from their seats and ran. >> i did not know that reporters had jumped from their seats. did you push back and grill those? >> they had been begging for six months. -- it was 48 horus. -- hours, when i said it was that, reporters jumped from their seats and ran. >> did you know you were -- >> i didn't know they would jump for seats. >> did you grill those who said they want you out there? >> it had been building for six months.
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it was eventually going to happen one way or another. >> dee dee, what signals did you send deliberately from the podium? >> that kind of caught me -- i did not have to send any. i was thinking today about when president clinton in his first year was putting together his first budget. one of the things we were doing -- the country was coming out of a recession -- we were trying to send signals to the financial market that the president was going to take balancing the budget seriously. we tried to send signals to the markets to get some response silica sand congress a little bit further. that is one example of a less
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militaristic situation, but it was successful. we were able to use the feedback from the people that were driving the markets. >> especially a signal like that, you have multiple audiences. to are you talking to add you calibrate your message to reach that audience? >> in a way, when you are the press secretary you can walk out into the briefing room -- it is a lot smaller than it looks on television. >> it is about the size. >> you can answer questions for the 20 people who are assembled there. i remember being surprised that there were two places i was recognized more than anywhere else. it was south korea and israel. i think that was because at the time the north koreans were
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quite aggressive in their form of diplomacy, i guess. the south koreans would watch every day because they want to know if america is still with them. that was the same with israel, in particular the 2007-20008 timeframe we were looking for a way to get president abbas to the table. that is the one piece of advice that i passed on to robert gibbs when he was coming into the press office -- do not forget that while these people in the briefing room can drive you crazy, people all around the world are watching because they want to know where the leader of the free world stands on those issues. >> you had experience at the state department. >> i told president clinton one time that of the two jobs he gave me, that was the far more interesting and challenging, to be at the podium in the state department. it is a much more substantive
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press corps. they all have graduate degrees in international relations. they do not go for a lot of the silly stuff that happens at the white house sometimes. that is one of the problems. you stand up and express righteous indignation from the white house podium on matters of foreign policy after you have just engaged in some political sparring back-and- forth about what the republicans and democrats are doing. it is jarring to the american public because they do not know which pat you are wearing. are you working for the president or are you the official spokesman on behalf of the united states government? we develop conflict in this role. the press -- it needs to be
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resolved. we all agree that we were better off when we brought other people in -- the secretary of state and other people responsible into the briefing room so that they could speak on behalf of the united states government. i have a concern that too many of the political actors migrate into the world of being efficient spokesman on critical matters of state. i am not sure that is their role. >> cameras have been allowed in to cover briefings live. it is not the real substance of the relationship between a spokesman at the press corps. reporters play an aggressive role. they know their editors are watching. i do the same thing in reverse. it is a tv show. reporters what is your office
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and close the door and talk one- on-one with you. >> if you are telling me it is a tv show, then the american public may not be very well served. what happens to the information that is supposed to be coming from that podium everyone is posturing? >> i agree with that 100%. one of the things we have to do -- we are in the 21st century and we are using a 19th century format to speak to the press corps. no matter how good-looking you are at the podium every day, doing a briefing for the press corps is a totally antiquated way for the american public to get its information. we have to reinvent the function of public and fro within government. i think it marginalizes the role of the press. >> i want to add, every day you see the press secretary
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defending the president at the podium. what you do not see is defending the press to the president and to the senior staff. that is never seen. unless you are trying to make sure the press corps can get into a meeting. that happens a lot. what the roles of the press secretary is to protect the role of the press and remember that they have a job to do. tony snow said on the record it is an important role to remind everybody that although they may drive you crazy, it is their role. >> when you pass that on the desk in the oval office -- >> the press always wants access. the press secretary's job is to
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fight for as much that is reasonable and doable. i remember on september 13, 2001, the president announced he was coming to new york the next day. normally that would just be a private phone call. i suggested that he let the press in and let them see the phone call. >> what was your motivation for that? >> it was good for the country to see the president talking to the leaders. >> it showed the president in a good, strong commanding light. >> that is actually where he got emotional. >> a reporter asked him a question about how he personally felt about what was going on. for the first time with cameras rolling, an emotional man was asked an emotional question. he said something along the lines of "i am a caring kind of
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guy. my job is to care for the people who are the victims." he walked out about to lose it. >> there are those who would say, and justifiably, to bring the cameras into a moment like that is stagecraft. >> p to questions after the phone call. he brought the press in when there was strife in the oval office. >> let me ask you another one. it bears directly on this. we solicited questions online from those who were attending and others who might be interested. there were voted upon. this one asked when is it ok to lie or knowingly withhold information on behalf of the president and the white house?
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>> never. >> those are two very different questions. [laughter] that is no lie. >> i innocently got in trouble. all of us have had situations where we know things are going to happen, but we cannot talk about them. sometimes you might put someone's life in jeopardy. sometimes there is a political or diplomatic protocol that does not allow you to acknowledge something publicly at that moment. you can never consciously lied because that destroys the credibility of the trust that is elemental in serving the
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president and the press corps. dana made a very good point. you are caught in this weird position. the geography for those of you who have watched the television program, "west wing," the back door of the office that all four of us have, you walk out of it and 25 feet away you are in the oval office with the president yelling at you about how bad the press is. if you turn left, you go into the briefing room. you have to try to keep both halves of that equation happy. it is a very tricky thing to do. you usually will not make your colleagues in the white house happy. you can never make the press corps happy because they are always bitching and moaning about something. [laughter] it is a formula for having to establish a kind of a way in which people get your queues of what you're trying to say. >> if you feel like you have lied on behalf of the president?
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>> no. here is the statement i have. i will not gbeyoyondt. there were parts i did not know because i never went beyond the statement. i famously said i would not parsed the statement. it was a very uncomfortable thing. i prided myself on being on top of the information and having a good brief to give to the american people. on the monica lewinsky matter, it was being looked at by a very rigid prosecutor. we could not put it in jeopardy. we did not pollute the environment by going in and saying, "what is the deal with you and this chick?"
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>> you were asked a number of times to define things. what does it mean when he says blah, blah, blah. a lot of them you ducked. the white house line was that this was a political line the special prosecutor was pursuing. the president was repeatedly denying some of the things that was happening. you had to be the spokesman and repeat that. >> i repeated what the statement was he had issued. it was asked and answered. the president is doing the job he was elected to do. the press needs to find the off button because they were pursuing the thing to ridiculously.
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>> how tough to get for you? that line where you knew something was happening whether it was legislatively, a scandal, or an event where you have more information did he want to pass on. >> i think that is something you learn to deal with because you learn that not only do you have to give accurate information, but you have to set up your answers said they do not track you down the line. i once got shot by one of my answers. you probably all know the story. when president clinton first came to the white house, president h. w. bush went back to kuwait to celebrate. the fbi began to investigate. the national security council was set up guidelines about
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these things. i would get asked a question about what was going on with the fbi investigation. one friday i was going through my briefing with the deputies for national security in my office. they said nothing had changed. same guidelines. the president will look at the results and make a decision about how to proceed. the president had received the information of the day before. the information was that iraq was responsible for the assassination attempt on president bush and the u.s. retaliated by a bombing of baghdad on saturday. this was friday. i did not know it until the following day. i realize that i had given them that guidance.
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i realized in hindsight that what i should have said was, "when the president receives the information from the fbi, he will make the decision. until then i have nothing to say." but i did not. you got to think ahead all the time not only about what is happening today, but what is happening in the future. it was a painful experience. >> i would add one thing to that. what some people do not realize is that in many ways the press secretary acts like a reporter as well. i do not know the answer to everything. i did a question. i do not know. i will call somebody at the national security council. i may also ask the chief of
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staff to make sure i had the same answer. if i do not have the same answer, i note these two have to talk. >> no one tells you what to say. you go out there with the information. it is up to the press secretary to go and be a reporter. >> what is the biggest mistake you have made? >> that was it. >> anymore big mistakes? >> i could put a montage together. it would be horrible. [laughter] >> it is a burnout job. you have the press on you. after 911, i was at a live briefing that was covered by al jazeera. i told them we had redeployed our troops. let me give you another example. we rolled up one of the terrorist we had been looking
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for. the press secretary -- the reporters ask me if it was true we had captured a terrorist in yemen. i tell them i cannot help them on that. they wanted a yes or no said they could know if they could write it or not. they grow angry at you. why can you not just say yes or no? i can say it now. we did capture a bad guy, we did not want anybody to know. he won his cell phone to ring again. in what is satellite phone to ring again. if i had acknowledged anything about him, the line could have gone cold. this is where you are doing what
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you think is right to represent your boss, but the press never thinks is right. >> i will give you an example of a mistake i made that was not necessarily substantive. it was tone. as we all know, there are a lot of pressures on the press secretary, but there are a lot of pressures on everybody. one time in particular, i embarrassed a reporter for asking a question that had already been asked. i embarrassed them. it was really unfair. the easiest thing to do when you are the press secretary is to be sarcastic and try to be funny. the most important thing you can do, i think, is to swallow that and save the funny moments with her deputies and bring it back up in your office and get the
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american people and reporters in the rear of the information they are speaking. i did call and apologize to the reporter, but it does not negate the fact that i did it. important thing. i am reminded again your story of the situation we encountered at cnn. after 9/11 we put together guidance. we understood that we could end up being used for nefarious means. we just his left hand, is that a signal to launch another attack? where do we get guns from. we said we would be sensitive to situations that could diminish in national security. we took lots of calls. there was a time when we first deployed u.s. troops for the staging. we first learned about that. we were approached and asked not to report that. we chose not to report it
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because of national security. a pakistani news organization reported that and another network reported in the united states. how can you say you are not point to suggest that when it is going out to all of the other media? >> my standard was when someone asked me if i was the source, i would give them an honest answer. if i say to you on that ground "go with it" and you go with it, the president asked if i am the source of it? >> you said, no. i am not the source of it.
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>> you told your editor that ari was the source. >> if someone in the name of the united states government confirms or says something then some murky report -- >> you would rather live with that information out there that comes from another source -- >> i would rather make sure that a journalist working to keep the american public informed moves towards the truce in a way that is not going to jeopardize people's lives were more or security. as someone is getting ready to write something that is flat out wrong were going to move away from the truth, then you have some obligation to warn them against that. can press secretaries alike? the answer is no, never. the only one who ever did that
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is jody powell to categorically denied to the press that a rescue mission was underway to get hostages out of iran. that was before the students were born. it was a test case and it has not been challenged because no one has ever outright lied to the press corps. we have to be reporters ourselves. we have to knock down the doors to get sources, to get the information. it is hard work to stay on top of all of it. >> what is the day in the light of the press secretary? do you get up at 3:00 in the morning? >> i do not think they sleep now. i think it has changed a lot. you do not sleep as much as you would like to. if you start early. >> de get all calls in the middle of the night? >> sometimes. >> you are looking pretty good
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for 101. [laughter] >> even when you are on the hill, you know there will be something in the paper the next day. when the alarm goes off, you go down to get the paper and read it. now, but there is no element of surprise anymore. in fact, a washington post reporter would not necessarily know that they had been beaten on a story by the new york times until 5:00 in the morning. now that happens at 7:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. >> for me what would happen is there would be something coming out that was proprietary to the new york times. i would wait in the fall would start to ring. there is a story in the new
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york times and i have a match. that is a big deal. they can cram it into the paper before the deadline. >> ari, this question -- if you had to sum up the job of white house press secretary in 1 tweet -- 140 characters or less -- what would you say? >> i would call it the best job i ever had. the most stimulating job i ever had. >> one thing we study in political communication and throughout our school is finding an issue and hal agendas for issues get set. from your perspective, who sets the agenda?
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the set the agenda from the podiums? is it reporters? all the above? could you control it? we know you tried. >> all the above. >> the press secretary does not set the agenda at all. events outside of the white house altogether whether it is egypt or markets crashing -- >> the president can make a speech and not set the agenda. >> it is pretty rare. that is the exception. >> that is the president setting the agenda. >> it is the struggle with politics and communication in a democracy. >> what works best? >> any kind of -- there was one
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really big story going on. it was a nasty topic. on a slow news day, my heart is beating. we had 15 or 20 random questions. they are interesting questions about extracurricular activities. >> it is going to be a kitchen sink day because you're going to get everything. >> if you try to set an agenda. he certainly tried to use the language to move away from suicide bombings. talk about that. >> during the second infantada where suicide bombers were taking lives in israel, it was unparalleled. if this is called a suicide, why are all these other people
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getting killed? i asked condi what she thought. she was fine with it. i went to the podium and called them "homicide bombers." that was a more accurate description of what was going on. >> how did that work? >> i think it worked well. a lot of people started to use that phrase. i thought it was a more accurate phrase. >> i think changing the vocabulary on something like that is a way in which you can use that job to do things. it is a rare opportunity to use the podium to -- >> are you just being a spin doctor in doing all of this? >> the danger associated with that job is the american people
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do not trust the sources of the information. they do not have faith in the media. they have seen too many people who do this political speak and they do not have charts for that. they are looking for someone who can help them sort out what really matters in their life. that is the hardest part of this job. as i said before, you have to do it to be an advocate and a protagonist for the president's point of view. you have to convey factual information to the american public that the american public needs to hear. >> how do you all think barack obama's messaging and his press secretary, robert gibson, have done at capturing the message? [whistling] [laughter] what a surprise. >> president obama lost 53
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seats in november. it is not a message problem, it is a substance problem. he overreached his mandate. he enacted policies that an overwhelming majority of the american people disagree with. i do not think it is a communications issue. >> de you agree with that, dee dee? >> if not entirely. i think the process of making legislation -- it is ugly. president clinton had some of the same problems, one of which is if you want to accomplish anything in washington as president, one of the things to do is legislatively. president obama came in saying he wanted to reform health care and reform the financial system. those are big, legislative
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things. the republicans have adopted the strategy of "just say no." could the president have done a better job of intervening and speeding it up to hold people accountable? yes. those things you could do better. i think there has been a lot of political capital. he took it out and he spent it. >> he went into debt with it. >> he did. he is willing to do that. who would have thought two months after the midterms he would be in the political shape he is in now. >> we called ronald reagan "the great communicator." is barack obama a great communicator? >> he can stay in the moment and deliver on that. >> i think the ability of the president to use the bully pulpit to help move the country
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in a direction that is so different today than it was in ronald reagan's time because of the difference in the media, technology, and the way we reach people. at some fundamental level, the people want to have an emotional attachment to their president and know that the president feels what they feel and understand what their lives are about. i think president obama is good at the art of doing that effectively. sometimes it was not prevalent in the first two years. >> robert gibbs, who is in some of the important and was during the first two years to the president -- i am interested in my colleagues' point of view on this -- it is nearly impossible to be a key policy maker on behalf of the president and simultaneously do the job we have to do.
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you almost have to be a fly on the wall watching all of these actors play out their role, but then watch the president make his decision. >> you are a participant in the process. this is what george stephanopoulos ran into. if you are a participant in the process, your colleagues know you have a point of view. i do not think -- i consciously never tried to give the president my opinion on something when there were a lot of cabinet officials around. i gave him my point of view sometimes in private, but not part of the policy-making. >> i totally agree with that for a number of reasons. i think it is difficult to return all of the telephone
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calls. you have to be a hand-holder. you have to spend some time doing that. you cannot be an adviser. another thing is you cannot alienate your constituency. it is beyond the credibility you may have with them. you have to get back to the people on the other side. they are not going to be as reliable when you report to them. you have got to be an honest broker inside. >> i want everyone to come spend made. >> right. >> i want to hear everyone's point of view and then i can figure it out. >> when i was press secretary, i had access to all the meetings. i would play that fly on the wall role. usually what i would give was not necessarily my personal opinion, but i did have a sense for -- i am just going to tell
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you -- if you go down that road, this is what is going to happen. it does not mean we cannot manage it. we made decisions as press secretary that we have to deal with. i go back -- >> this is the children's health insurance program. the legislation was vetoed twice. >> he hates children. >> the point is taken. he was wanting the money to go to the more poor children first. we are crazy. we're going to be the telling us twice.
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-- vetoing this twice. >> when you say a warning or that this is wrong -- this is the parent that you are doing this with. >> remember, his father was vice president and then he had run for governor anti had run for president. these were the reporters that he had been dealing with and he had the highest ability to take bad news. >> also bill clinton. >> he did not have a high tolerance for bad news. he would blow off a little steam. >> blowing off steam. >> he did not have this.
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[laughter] [applause] >> one time president bush to the press conference. and after he left he went to the oval office, he said, the comment of world war three . president bush said, you were right. >> do you have one of these? >> this is somewhat similar. this is in 2003. this is with the war in iraq. this was winding down but then the attacks began to start up
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and we began to lose soldiers. the president was in a news conference. and he said that if anyone tries to attack america's military, his message was to bring it on. i said, think about how this will sound to someone who has a child fighting in iraq. . he got indignant and he said, i have so much faith in our military, if anybody wants to tangle with us, bring it on because you will lose. he was sending a message to our military about the fate he had in the military. i said mr. president, it did not come out that way. he healed. >> mr. it -- mrs. bush repeated what you said then that helps.
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>> a question from one of my colleagues. i love this question. why did the democratic press operations have so much more trouble controlling the party's message compared with republicans? >> i will take a crack at that. if you scratch any professional democrats or people who worked in the party, they came up the 1960's and 1970's through movement politics. they were late -- they were union organizers, feminist, environmentalist. they worked in a movement politics and believe that the press was going to be on their side. they were in the business of speaking truth. republicans never had that fiction in mind. they started from a viewpoint that was more corporate, more
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fuel than public relations. it goes all the way back to nixon. it was more about mass communications. republicans were more adept at the skills, public relations from the beginning brayed democrats just mistakenly -- >> that is pretty plausible. bush had the advantage of watching all the mistakes made in his father's administrations. there were a lot of powerful individuals that fought against each other. they regularly linking against each other. bush watched that as a son and he made the decision that the people he hired would really be team players. i cannot tell you how many times i was in the oval office and it
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never leaked. the press loved the leaks. with our administration, white house is secretive. >> you are secretive and tight- lipped. >> congratulations. >> that is where we have the clash of priorities. when i covered the reagan white house and the bush white house, some of it was disarray. it made it a little easier to take the story to the public. >> each was fighting for his own turf. that is what did it. >> you are not going to stop turf battles between heavyweights in the administration. >> they seldom leaked in the bush administration. >> there is a myth that the
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republicans did not have message problems. if you look at the social security debate of 2005, that is not a cohesive message. >> is that the same problem that obama had at reelection time? that is debatable. when you take on these big issues, it is not necessarily -- you will not have a cohesive message. >> lightning round. i want to go to a few questions. with regard to the television series the west wing, how
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realistic was that? >> one of the funny things about that, the creator of the show had been in washington. he read a script for the movie american president. he asked me if i would read his pilot and consult on the show. all of my friends in washington started calling me. hollywood never gets washington right. the show is going to be a disaster. the first show came on and i got calls from all of my friends. two weeks later, i got a story idea for you. it was a -- it felt like the clinton white house. it was written during the
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clinton years. the culture was right, in some ways. events move fast and it was a way to depict the constant motion of events. the one thing that was least realistic was there was about five people that made the decisions. the sense that most people better working hard trying to do the right thing every day. the fact that just when you think you have the answer to one question, another issue comes crashing over. the kind of gravity about what people face every day and sometimes the little things that when the day or knock you off your course. all those things were realistic credit it was the characters that people related to. there is a sense of idealism. there are a good patriotic americans, regardless of party.
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>> the panel represents two decades of media relations. what'd you think are the most salient chase it -- changes? this one touches on the technology issue. >> in some ways, we have fundamentally different jobs. reporter weiser, you've lost a lot of that senior level talents and broadcast media. this is coming down in a couple of hours. i am thinking of having the president do this. we could have a conversation. there is a more cooperative relationship than you think.
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d.c. is not as partisan as it is made out to be. on the technology side of things, at first, i resisted. >> how many followers do you have? >> i think it is 30,000 now. i have a long way to go. >> how many followers to you have? >> i will follow you. >> here is a very interesting question. 5.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions around the world. high-resolution remote sensing satellites generating enormous amounts of data.
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more satellite news network's every day. how has this changed what a white house press secretary can do to set national and international priorities? is the essence of government itself changing? >> ask mubarak. >> one of the challenges that we are going through right now is how do we slowdown the transfer of information so that people can actually get information and use it, get a coherent information and use it effectively to make decisions. all the competition in the news business -- and this is based on speed. breaking news. something or other. every 30 seconds.
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we have got to slow that down so that people -- >> that is not going to happen. >> the spokesperson can slow it down. >> a can win the white house consciously says, you have to stop and get things right. one of the things that has eroded the confidence of the american people is all this misinformation that gets out there when there is a crisis. instantly, we had a congresswomen from arizona who was dead for two hours. wording how to slow down, at be thorough, it is something that both sides of this have to get better at. >> how is this change in the nature of governance? >> it is changing the press more than governments. reporters have got to respond to it.
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>> you do not think that it changes the nature of governance? and >> i think it has changed the press more than officials. you still have a higher obligation to get it right and figure it out. waseteran's day 2001, there a plane crashed on long island. it was two months after september 11. is this terrorism again? i was in a brief. i was coming in at 7:15. i heard it on my car radio. i stayed down there with the president and i did not come up to greet until noon. that five hours -- they were furious with me. i made some enemies on the press that day because i would not briefs until i was ready to.
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i slowed down. the press has to go live. is it terrorism? yes or no? >> if you get it wrong, and you have to correct it. >> the consequences of us getting a wrong is that we lose a job. we lose credibility. the consequences of you getting it wrong is you do a correction and you fix it. >> it is a little tougher than that sometimes. i also know that it does change the decision making function. and the role the people are playing. when you have pictures coming directly into the white house. i know that when the russian attacked, the white house was watching those pictures in real time. when you elevate that, put all
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that on steroids and attach it to is part of it. look how difficult it is for the white house to sustain a narrative on the topic they want to talk about. the president wants to talk about jobs, and egypt blows up. the president wants to sell his health care message ne has 15 seconds to get that message across. no matter how trivial, no matter how unimportant it might be. we have to spend two days on it. >> it takes us to another question. what skills to rely on most as your role as press secretary?
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>> it is not necessarily a scale -- skill, but a lot of it is gut instinct. in some ways, it is falling your gut and knowing when there'll be a big story or when is not. >> you had training. >> i had worked as a journalist. when i say how important it was to defend the press to the president, that comes from having that bit of training. an understanding what it means when a journalist would call and they would tell you, i have this story. i have to sources. then i have 30 seconds before this thing hits the airwaves. you would tell the chief of
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staff. he says he has to sources, what am i supposed to do? a little bit of training from that perspective. a lot of it was trial and error. i had a wonderful chief of staff on capitol hill. >> he just got a new job. >> what advice would you give a former journalist applying for a job in the white house press job? >> good luck. it will be a great test. two years and he buys
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president's office. -- in the vice-president office. when you are a journalist, every skill you have is to cover the news. it is different than selling the news or promoting your boss. this will test him to see how quickly he can make that transition. he is smart, fast on his feet, a very good-looking. it is a great test. >> advice? >> i sort of disagree. i think a sense of humor will diffuse tense situations. >> if it is self-deprecating. >> correct. that is the most important thing. >> you escaped that day. >> you managed to preserve
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yourself some howl through that whole monica mess. >> thank you for reminding me. >> i try not to relive those days. >> i do not think i could devote -- did away with some of those trips i did now. they would all be on youtube. someone would start calling me out. >> you set on live television, let's go on backgrounds. he tried to put the president on background. >> i remember that. >> it did not work. >> is special did not work with at present. >> do you have a comment about the recent news that aol is
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buying huffington post? >> no. >> fascinating. >> it is whatever. just three months ago, and newsweek was sold for a dollar. the overhead costs, the legacy costs, not being able to keep up. the new media at is taking the world by storm. >> there is a real danger if we think that all information that we value ought to be freely available. if we do not value and pay for the content. >> the huntington post started as a liberal bloc.
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-- the huffington opposed started as a liberal bloc. -- blog. >> it is a proudly liberal organization. you look at -- this is the turn of the last century where in new york city there were 23 or 24 newspapers. we're back to an era where all news comes from a point of view. people did not expect anything else. the huffington post was established in 2005 and was profitable last year. that is pretty remarkable. >> can its aol? >> it has a good enough shot as anything. >> she is a creative -- she has created something. the other person who is running
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newsweek is tina brown. it is to be the other way. you take and on paper publication and you hitched a website to it. >> you had rupert murdoch announcing a new paper just for the ipad. he would not do that if he did not think he could make money. you have to be willing to pay for it. that will be $40 a year. >> every model under the sun is being tested. how do you make the news business profitable? >> you have had an incredible job. incredible view of history. an incredible opportunity to help shape it.
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as you look at our political process now, as you look in armenia and technology now, as you look at the nature of our civil discourse in this country, think about our students, many of whom would like to do what you have done. how do you define this moment in history? how should someone that is 21 years old lookit as look at how we -- look at how we are as a culture? i will let you take it wherever you wanted to go. it is a great weight to close the conversation. >> i am very optimistic about where we are going. we have a lot of dysfunction,
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bitterness, poisoned in the environment of our political culture. over time, i detect among young people a row pragmatism and desire to solve problems, a real hunger for real information that allows them to make choices and allow them to shape their own choices about the future. i think that will results in a new journalism with a new business models are affected. it will result in a new civil discourse that is really focused on solving problems. our generation has failed to -- in not answering honestly, how much government do we want? we're all celebrating ronald reagan's 100 anniversary, but it began when we made that faults
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bargain. you can cut taxes and not cut government. it happened during his presidency. until we resolve that and get serious about those fundamental questions, up we will be back into place for we can have a coherent government. the students here today are going to be much more courageous in addressing those questions. as a result, they will invent a new politics and a new journalism. >> talking to young people, it is more like asking them where are we as a culture. the things are changing so quickly and i think the tools are available and the view that is resulting from this technology age has totally transformed the world. what is happening in egypt is a
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facebook revolution. did never would've happened with a couple of facebook pages. to organize, to plan meetings, to save january 25 is the day. that is just the beginning of people organizing themselves. politics, we are in a bad place, but the next generation is going to jump over where we have been to create a completely new model. the model of the white house press secretary -- we're not going to have another network -- a generation of network news anchors. it is an exciting time. it is fraught with danger. with all that energy and that democracy, it is on manageable by anybody. the repercussions of its are completely unpredictable. but it has potential to unleash innovation, new ways of thinking
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and new ways of creating wealth for the country. it is mind-boggling to think of the potential. it is a very exciting time. >> i share the optimism. d.c. and politics is not as partisan as some people. we are showing that tonight. you can disagree on things and still be able to have a civil conversation. i got a chance to teach at gw last year and i really enjoyed that.
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i grew up in a rule environment -- rural environments and the internet has allowed to people all across the country to have a say in what is happening. that has made some people uncomfortable. people who never -- people from wyoming who are now online and participating and reading things in the did not have access to all this information. nobody is dropping off "the new york times at my grandfather's ranch in the middle of wyoming. now they can have access and they can participate. just a year ago, when scott brown won the election in massachusetts, at they were successful in getting small donations from people all over
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the country. it is a very interesting and exciting time. take advantage of being in d.c. and take the internship, the job, the one that does not sound very exciting. he starts in the credibility deficit. i took all of that -- i was able to handle that. always take the deputy job. i traveled on the weekends and all the holidays. i listen to so many young people who are so exhausted all the time. you have to take advantage of what is going on in washington. work very hard and meet a lot of people. you find that all over the city.
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it is a wonderful place to be. tw is a fantastic place to have this experience. >> i started 22 years old on capitol hill, right out of college. if you like politics, died then. this is what makes art -- dive in. this is what makes our country so great. there is also a lot of smart people who come together and work for a cause. as much as people will say tuftings or how bad things are, look around the world. we have settled their differences peacefully in this country. it is a noisy process, died in ve into it.
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it is right at your doorstep. capitol hill has more young people than anywhere else in positions of influence of power. you come to capitol hill and you can really move up fast and move up well if you are sharp, smart, a team player. the best town for ideas. so many people here are political communications majors. this is kind of like a rock concert. did better rock stars. that is my advice to you. [laughter] [applause] >> on that note, we are all
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privileged to have had a fascinating conversation here tonight. we've explored some of the cultural and journalistic and technological trendsetter altair. as well as some remarkable personal insights on the lives that you of lead. to our radio and television audiences on c-span and elsewhere, thank you for joining us. i have to see what our next conversation series on march 23. we will be talking to another pioneer of media. thank you for joining us this evening. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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>> now the 67th annual congressional dinner hosted bit washington press club member. speakers come from both sides of the aisle. master of ceremonies. tonight.
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keep those outfits handy. i want to introduce the distinguished head table. please hold off your applause into life and as the introduction and i will start from my right. congresswoman terri sewell of alabama, one of tonight's speakers. [applause] senator kelly ayotte of new
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hampshire, another speaker tonight. david myers of ceq role call, the foundation secretary and one of the dinner co-chairs. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz of florida. senator john cornyn of texas. on my left, our master of ceremonies, jake packer, abc white house correspondent. majority whip, kevin mccarthy of california. minority leader nancy pelosi of california. [applause] dena bunas of ceq rob roll call and another co-chair. senator chris coons of delaware, a speaker tonight. and congressman sean duffy, also
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a speaker tonight. and now, the round of applause. [applause] okay, i have a queue clich thank you's. a special debt of gratitude to the committee and in particular the dimare co-chairs for the tireless dena bunas and david myers and the wonderful director suzanne puron who did magic with planning and logistics for tonight's event. i also want to thank the foundation sponsors and friends who made the work of the foundation possible and help us put on tonight's event. we have the hill, ceq roll call, the u.s. chamber of commerce, ford motor company, api, also the evelyn y. davis foundation,
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toyota, aarp, the comcast network catcem, many thanks to sydney wilkinson, the cartoonist for the philadelphia daily news, for providing the cover art for the program, and to bloomberg television for the lifetime achievement award video. and of course, the mandarin oriental hotel and the great staff to have accommodated our needs and are serving you tonight. i encourage all of you to stay after our program for the hill's after party. you will get a special bipartisan treat them, too, that is the second amendment. it's a second because the plan old amendment, disbanded and came back together. they will be in the house. the future the congressman collin peterson and howe these
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macabre -- savvy is mccotter and others. you know, it was ten months ago we held this dinner when times have changed. in just three months, we had an extraordinary election, a newsy lame-duck section and an outrageous tragedy. we have congressman debbie wasserman schultz here at the head table. congresswoman, i would like to see that next year it is our sincere wish that your friend, gabbie giffords, will be sitting there in your place. [applause] six lives were taken on january 8th and tucson, and we
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grieve and have grieved for all of them. yet with so many congressional staff members here in our midst, it is with you that we remember gabe zimmerman and salute what he represented and that you try to live up to every day. [applause] 92 years ago a group of pioneering women journalists formed the women's national press club in an expression of solidarity to establish their own voice in otherwise male-dominated business. we are proud heirers of that legacy to carry out the original women's national goal of equality, scholarship and excellence in journalism. in keeping with that mission,
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the proceeds of tonight's dinner go to the foundation's charitable projects including collecting oral history of women pioneers and journalism and a successful internship program that includes "the new york times," the associated press, doud -- del jones newswire, the houston chronicle and "the los angeles times." it is now my pleasure and a great relief -- [laughter] -- to leave our program and the more able hands of our emce, jacob tapper, abc white house correspondent. when i covered the hill, i used to listen to his reports on tv, read his blog and his tweets for the value of the information in them. now, as the white house reporter i read them more defensively with dread, and i seem to be
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reading them all the time tall hours. we are deeply grateful for jake taking on this job. if only to stop the tweeting. [laughter] mr. tapper, take us away. [applause] >> is congressman chris lee here? [laughter] right, i'm the bad guy. [laughter] i just see that he left his phone. [laughter] you guys can make fun of congressman lee all you want but he will give you the shirt off his back. [laughter] before i begin, has been asked to give an important message to the vice chairman of the armed
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forces, general corelli, are you here, valerie jaret would like a refill. [laughter] i had actually been seriously asked to alert congressman lee that the auditions for the chip and dales will begin after the event. is that joke too 4:00 for you? [laughter] the scandal was quick, congress banned. some of you probably don't even know about it. the story posted at 2:30. it announced his resignation before the evening news. he told the woman on craigslist i won't disappoint, but i have to tell you i'm disappointed. i want more. freshman congressman and senators do not follow the example of congressman lee. [laughter]
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drag it out. do not ended immediately. anyway, as we all know he can be a divorced lobbyist for real and not just on line. so welcome to the 67th annual washington press club foundation dinner. the first in a series of the vince cure the nation's capital seemingly designed for those who think that reporters and politicians are not chummy enough. as i look out i am struck by the sight of the money even as a freshman than i have seen since i've got to go back to spring break, daytona beach, 1988. [laughter] kevin was there. there are in fact more freshman legislators than at any time since the late 1980's. new republicans and 90 democrats in the house. 13 new republicans and democrats in the senate did you have to go back to the 1920's to find a
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time when there were as many new republicans and so few new democrats in the congress and of course that decade ended well so good luck with that. [laughter] seriously though it's always great to be a bunch of freshmen before the street slam's all over you. you are full of idealism, determined to change the ways of washington. it's just horrible. [laughter] 20% of the new congress is made up of freshmen which reminds me as a former capitol hill reporter to take to the opportunity to let you know the rules you might not know about that they didn't tell you. kevin, nancy. first there's elevators on the house side the that say members only to beat you are required to wear those full leather paul eurith and members only jackets when you are on them. chris van hollen since he has won used that he can sell to. second, i know a lot of you were elected after a some might say
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unhinged election season but the deal is we have a new tone so job killing, health care bill, i'm sorry, that's out. you may have noticed speaker boehner now uses the kind term job crashing. kevin suggested job mutilating, job disemboweling. [laughter] job dismembering. before i forget, michele bachman asked me to provide the constitutional justification for my remarks tonight. i will be submitting those with my birth certificate. [applause] [laughter] congressman steve king if he's here. also the congressman kucinich wi-fi earlier the presentation is bringing you a special serving a jello and a waiver of
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some sort for you to sign. [laughter] it's been an interesting time for me personally at the white house i spend a great deal of time covering exuberant protests in the street leading president obama increasing and then slowly backing away from a close ally, close ally who is seemingly oblivious to the will of the people, but it's good to see you tonight, minority leader pelosi. [laughter] [applause] i thought that there were republicans in this room. it's a press meeting, never mind. [laughter] as you may know the club was established in 1919 as the women's national press club at the time female reporters were not allowed to become members of the national press club or the gridiron club. the national press club was still wished to make sure women had an equal place in the newsroom and from the front row with the right to veto briefing room. i know i speak for chuck,
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wendell, jeff and jam when i say bravo, levy's, bravo peery [applause] you have come a long way, baby. [laughter] so this dinner is not to only welcome the new congressmen and their hard-working staff but also to salute the journalists who work hard to try to get the story right day after day after day. there are a few of us left. on the serious note we reword the david lynch regional reporting award to a journalist who represents the high standards that david n. bodies throughout his career and from his corner cubicle in the gallery before his untimely death in 1999. the david lynch memorial is given annually to a washington-based reporter it recognizes excellence and coverage of congress from a regional perspective and the winner of this year's award is barbara of mcclatchy newspaper. [applause] her work was selected because of
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her excellence in reporting on issues affecting north carolina and particularly for the thorough research and well-written coverage of how tariff policies affect the state. please come to the podium. [applause] [applause] on january 12th congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz was at her friend, congressman gabbie giffords. flying back she described watching her signs of recovery as being comparable only to experiencing the birth of her children.
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she joins us as a conduit to gabbi we wish her godspeed, converse woman debbie wasserman schultz tell her we are seizing a space for her next year. ladies and gentlemen, congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz. [applause] >> thank you very much. i really have to start by telling you i wish i wasn't standing here. i wish the defense had been different, but i am thrilled to tell you that i just spent a wonderful day and a half with gabbie in houston and am overjoyed to share with you she's doing great. as i assure all of you know, gabbie has begun to say a few words, which is an excellent development and a great indicator of the progress of her recovery. i can tell you that i spent the entire day all the way into the evening with her on monday and was sitting with her while she
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was eating breakfast in the hospital monday morning. if you've ever had hospital of meal common you can understand why she was eating a fabulous meal and looked at her trey, looked up and said toast. [laughter] so i was thrilled to be able to be there when she asked for toast. it seems small, but obviously given the event, we know that that's just one step on what we know will be the road to her recovery and return to us and her colleagues in congress and to her friends and family i do look forward to next year's dinner when i can be seated back in the audience and gabbie can be standing here addressing you saying even more. thank you. [applause]
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as we move forward from the national tragedy in tucson we must honor the lives of those lost and the spirit of those recovering. bye pledging to raise the level of discourse in our democracy to that let us promised to debate passionately but without demonizing those with whom we disagree. president obama's clarion call from tucson urged us to honor the victims in particular 9-year-old christina tayler green. by doing everything in our power to make our democracy in our nation the of our childrens' expectation. in the week following the shooting, the weeks that shocked the nation and rocked the foundation of washington, no words scarred me more than that of my 11 year old daughter who knows gabbie from our family vacations together. she asked me mommy, does this mean you're going to get shot? i swallowed hard and told her no, of course mauney will be okay. you know that we are careful. but she pressed further is going to pass an immigration law just
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like arizona and then people will be mad at you. my heart sank further that week when my leader made a republican reporters that we feel safer when you are in washington. our children are paying attention more than we realize. they listen to and understand our dialogue here in washington just like they know and understand the conversations of their parents. in my nearly 20 years of public service, i watched our national rhetoric become increasingly toxic. i searched my own soul for moments when my behalf crossed the line for none of us but i know this when it has become easier to accuse those with whom we disagree of being an american or less than human than it is to simply make the most passionate case for the policy we believe best for our nation than we have field in which children. let me be clear the massacre in tucson was likely caused by the voices inside of one deranged man's had than those of the vitriol on our airwaves but i cannot blind myself and forget
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that during the health care debate, gabbie's district window was shot at or gunshots were fired at the office of eric cantor. i cannot erase from the memory that her political opponents held a fund-raiser with the slogan of removing her from office any more than i can forget that one of my own opponents did the same and shot at a human silhouette paper target with my initials written. republican or democrat, we are all americans first. we are all on the same page. we must file back. let us show our children and the world our political opponents are not our enemies. and try harder to find common ground. it would be a real example for a were children. president obama eloquently spoke of the her resume in tucson that tragic day. four days tended to her wounds and kept her alive, the men in the grocery store who tackled the assassin, the elderly woman who ran away and ammunition that really could have taken more
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lives. the night before she was shot, gabbie learned that her friend, trey grayson, the republican from kentucky, had been named at harvard university institute of politics. in her very personal way, she warmly congratulated him by the appointment to such a prestigious a point and asked for his help in her words to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down. now that she is once again spoken, perhaps she can teach us all how to speak without the futrell that has been ripping the nation apart. thank you very much. [applause] senator crist coons should not be here tonight. [laughter] not just because the democratic leadership is holding their retreat in charlottesville, the stars had to have aligned
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themselves just perfectly for chris to win the senate seat in delaware first president obama had to win. second, he had to have chosen as his running mate a gas prone senator, joe biden, who has never once used the word literally literally. [laughter] but then senator obama girded his loins and kicked joe biden to be everlasting delight of the white house press corps. that created a vacancy for the delaware senate popular republican congressman mike castle, seeing such issue in for the republican nomination, vice presidential son and state attorney general api cited not sure run the bin cantelon christine. so we know the story, new castle county executive coons is now senator coons. ladies and gentlemen, he's not a witch. [laughter]
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but he may be warlock. please welcome the angry birds champion of the senate, chris coons. [applause] >> thank you, jake. i a understand this is the biggest washington press club foundation dinner ever. the biggest dinner with the shortest speaker. i take this is in the first time that jake has been the second choice to fill a job first offered to chris. [laughter] no good deed goes unpunished. you are doing a great job filling in. [laughter] i would like to start this evening by thanking the people who made it possible for me to be here in the united states senate, the republican primary voters of delaware. [laughter]
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and i'd like to extend a special and personal thank you to sarah palin and jim demint. without whose timely endorsement i would not be here either. [laughter] much like my colleague, senator kelly. this is an amazing experience though. i must say never in my wildest dreams was like convinced i would be united states senator until right at the end when it was pretty obvious. [laughter] it was an honor to be invited this evening to address the members of my opposition research team or were you my opponents communications team. sometimes it was frankly a little hard to tell the difference. i am the senator from delaware, as jake mentioned so the organizers must meet this evening particularly to be short. [laughter] i will be brief, i am always
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short. but frankly barbara boxer and on behalf of the vertically challenged decided to form a caucus so we can stand up for the rights and interests of those who come up short every time they stand. and you know, just as an aside, if you are short and happen to become a person in how well, somehow people think you have an napoleonic complex. i don't know why this. it interferes with my important work like the invade russia act, which didn't pass this time but i will try again next winter. as some of you know i just drove back up from charlottesville where the democrats are in retreat, i'm sorry, i read that wrong. [laughter] where the democrats are at a retreat. but i really wanted to be here. i thought it was important to be here because if i learned anything from the exit poll of
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the election in my state of delaware it said that there are thousands and thousands who really wanted a senator who would see lots of laughable things. [laughter] my opponent was, after all, magic. and if you read the news today, apparently she was the president's number one opponent as well, which is why there were so many things flying around after the primary, and there are a lot of people who think she is the only reason that on one. well, that and my perfect hair. [laughter] folks, i'm not kidding. all of this is natural. [laughter] and the reason why scott brown is the sexiest man in the senate will soon come to an end. [laughter] [applause]
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it is really though going to take quite a lot to live up to my predecessor, taking joe biden's seat in the senate is a challenge because he's got really big effing shoes to fill. [laughter] actively i asked the vice president what i would most like about service in the senate and he said you're going to love the health care plan. it covers hair plugs. [laughter] but, you know, i think if i really wanted to have a thousand little holes punched into my head i should have gotten here before ron left the white house. [laughter] in addition to that advice, joe biden also gave me a lot of his amtrak frequent traveler miles because he literally, literally has millions of them. [laughter] during the campaign, my opponent made some headlines when she admitted she had doubled in

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